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Turkey Housing

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by jaku, Oct 24, 2009.

  1. jaku

    jaku Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm going to do a few turkeys next year- more than likely just the Broad Breasted Whites, so I bought "Storey's Guide to Raising Turkeys." It mentions a few brooder/housing options, but not moveable tractors. I'm wondering if there's any reason not to pasture raise them just like broiler chickens- out of the brooder when they're feathered out, then in tractors??
     
  2. Southerngirl

    Southerngirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am going to try this next year also and were just talking about this a few days ago! I do not feel there is personally any difference for the turkey, just a larger portable pen. Plus they would be able to eat grass and be protected from predators also. I tried letting them free range and they kept getting on the highway. I raised the Broad Breasted whites and bronzes and am getting Palms and Bourbon Reds next year also to try this way. I want to see some replies also from other turkey owners;maybe post it in the turkey section also??
     
  3. pdpatch

    pdpatch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Turkeys need to be in a brooder type environment for about 7 to 9 weeks before put on grass, there immune system develops slowly. Putting them on Grass to soon and you will start loosing them.

    They still need bagged feed because that has the extra minerals they need to develop good bone structure. With out good bone structure they won't put on good weight.

    Although Great Whites may appear to be as slow as A Cornish Cross they are not. So you need head room to get them when it comes time to butcher. Other wise there should not be a problem.

    Of course everything is bigger for for them.

    Tom
     
  4. Steve_of_sandspoultry

    Steve_of_sandspoultry Overrun With Chickens

    The BB types don't forage as well as a heritage type for pasture raising, especially when they get alot of weight on them. When we raised them they went from feed to water to feed and that was about it.

    Steve in NC
     
  5. Buster52

    Buster52 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We kept ours in Salatin style tractors for quite some time. This was a modified one at 2.5 feet high rather than the standard 2 feet. In retrospect it might not have been a bad idea to make it 3 feet tall, though.

    At some point I instinctively decided to let them completely free range during the day. I then used treats... boiled eggs or torn bread pieces, crumbling the former in my hands or tearing the latter for them and dropping them into the tractor, then lifting the tractor. For the most part they went right in after it. They had to first develop a taste for these treats, though.

    At some point I didn't bother with the tractor at all, just left them outside protected by my dogs 24/7.

    They did forage pretty well for quite some time. Not as well as my heritage breeds are now doing, but they didn't do too badly I don't think. Mostly in the morning right after I let them out of the tractor, and then again in the evening. They still needed lots of feed, but the conversion ratio is pretty high I think. Something like 3 to 1, so it is a good investment. But they do need to be able to forage if you want that taste difference from store bought. Otherwise you might as well just buy a Butterball at Wal-Mart.

    I didn't take careful notes, so I don't know when all these transitions occurred, but I did sort of let my instincts be my guide, which should be even easier for an experienced meat guy like yourself. As I've mentioned before I let mine grow too big, so I may have been able to process before I got to the point of completely free-ranging them.

    If you have Storey's 2001 edition of their turkey book, you will find on page 42 a neat little structure for free range birds that I will be building in the next couple of months for our heritage breeds. But even then I will still tractor them for quite a while before turning them loose, mainly to protect them from my cats. With my lab and now 3 great pyrs, other predators don't have a chance around here.

    Here's a pic of my BB Whites as young teens in their tractor...

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2009
  6. Brunty_Farms

    Brunty_Farms Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Well the reason why is just imagine the amount of manure from the the broilers in the tractors.... times that by 50.

    I have 300 BBW right now and they roam over 3 acres all day. They forage really well and have no problem eating 9 inch blades of grass. They look like like an army when they march through the fields devouring anything that looks apealing. Bugs, rats, mice, snakes, moles, flies, mosquitoes, those little tiny white field moths, grass, clover, berries, seeds... you name it they eat it.

    It's funny to watch a 30 lb live turkey chase after a moth that is the size of a dime....

    Good luck with them, once you get them past 8 weeks they are indestructable.... can not kill them. (Blackhead is about the only thing that seems to have a huge effect on them)

    As far as a shelter, I use a couple of those ez-up tents and put a large tarp over them and make a 3 sided shelter. I put the food in there for them so the feed doesn't get wet and it gives them a place to stay out of the wind and rain. But the problem is they don't ever use it..... they will sleep outside in the rain even if it's 35 degrees outside. If I know it's going to get really nasty out I shove them in the shelter right before dark just to be on the safe side.

    Feed them 24% for 8 weeks then drop them down to about 16% for the rest of the grow out. ONE BIG mistake most people do is get them too early in the season and they have things that aren't really turkeys... some get 50+ dressed weights because they get them too early. I find that July is perfect for about an 18-24 lb turkey and end of August is about a 10-14 lb turkey.

    Let me know when you decide to order, I get them really cheap and may be able to get some shipped to you for around $2.50 / bird (shipped). I know a lot of hatcheries are like $4-5 bucks / bird plus shipping.
     
  7. Steve_of_sandspoultry

    Steve_of_sandspoultry Overrun With Chickens

    Buster, are you talking about the range roost? We built one similar but not movable. It works very well for the turkeys.

    [​IMG]

    Steve
     
  8. Buster52

    Buster52 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yep. That looks like it, Steve. Here's a picture of it...

    [​IMG]

    ETA
    The main advantage of this system is to not only give them a place to roost, but shelter at the same time. I have found the same thing Brunty Farm has... they don't tend voluntarily seek shelter even when it is raining. There has to be something else that attracts them there.

    But they do like to roost at night, and this would draw them in, plus protect them a bit from the elements like when it is raining or really hot out and there is no other shade.

    At least that's the theory. We'll see what happens in reality. [​IMG]

    Nice setup, BTW. I see you are using it for chickens. Do you have one for your turkeys?
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2009
  9. Buster52

    Buster52 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Well the reason why is just imagine the amount of manure from the the broilers in the tractors.... times that by 50.

    I think that might be the case if he stuffed the tractor full the way folks do broilers, but if he is just raising a few (I'm assuming less than 10) I seriously doubt they would be any worse than 75 to 100 Cornish X. With my five I didn't find the amount of poop to be all that bad even when they were huge.

    Bad, but not that bad. [​IMG]
     
  10. Steve_of_sandspoultry

    Steve_of_sandspoultry Overrun With Chickens

    Quote:Yes there are two Beltsville Small White turkey hens in the back right hand nest box. The Cochins and the BSW's live together. [​IMG]

    Steve
     

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